If you’ve ever been trying to Google for a news story on Breitbart, but all you can find is CNN stories, you’re not alone, and it’s not an accident.

With the Global Warming debate heating up once again, allegations of “Fake News” being hurled in every direction, and, of course, those pesky Russians, who even knows what’s real anymore. We’ve seen plenty of publicity about organizations policing what content users have access to, like with
Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news. Naturally, the question of who could possibly have the authority to decide what is “truth” is difficult to answer, but, fortunately, Google seems to have joined Zuckerberg in his cries of, “Pick me! Pick me!”

WattsUpWithThat.com (WUWT) – a site operated by an eco-friendly climate change skeptic with a background in meteorology and weather technology – published an analysis from Leo Goldstein last week that analyzed and quantified the Google search bias long believed to be actively used against sites promoting non-preferred opinions. The pro-liberal bias in search results has long been assumed, though I’m unaware of any detailed analysis quantifying it prior to this, and the results, while based on limited, imperfect data, are hard to deny.

Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the methodology, leveraging the free data available on the web ranking site, Alexa, Goldstein establishes a metric, “Net traffic”, which represents only results of non-targeted searches on topics, such as climate change. Data of users searching for a topic, plus any site name are omitted, and the resulting Net traffic is representative of Google’s intent for presenting “options” for users on a given subject.

Analyzing specifically climate debate searches and sites, Goldstein’s metrics show an undeniable discrepancy in his search metrics for “Climate Alarmist” sites over “Climate Realist” domains. The author notes that this sort of analysis isn’t meaningful on an individual basis, so the aggregates Goldstein presents are a compelling point in the search favorability of broadly “climate change” and “climate skeptic” sites.

The topic of the climate is an extreme example of a more broadly applicable pro-liberal bias in search results. A briefer analysis of general bias in results looks at several of the most popular liberal media outlets, as well as a number of conservative outlets, with similarly blatant results, though broadly speaking, the impact against general conservative views is less pronounced than in specific topics.

Nonetheless, based on Goldstein’s data analysis, there is significant bias against conservative sites in Google searches, concluding:

On average, the conservative domains have almost two times lower PGSTN than the left/liberal ones: conservative 15.5% (standard deviation 5.1%) vs. left/liberal 27.4% (standard deviation 4.9%).  Hypothesis of Google Search left/liberal bias is confirmed with a confidence of 95%.

Feature Image via WUWT

  • Rusty Esq

    I really like the effort someone’s gone to to put this together. I did a brief 30 minute scan to get a feel for it, including following some links. Here are my findings.

    “Climate alarmists” vs “climate realists”? You lost me already. Should be neutral language.

    Whatsupwiththat contains great articles, but it’s poorly structured and most visitors wouldn’t bother. The content is too hard to find.

    JudithCurry’s site is a shitty blog and I’m surprised it’s as popular as it is. Judy is awesome, but, this blog needs to be put out to pasture. Nearly impossible to find anything here. It signals the need for a decent roadmap of articles (not Wikipedia though – it has bad politics).

    The popularity of most of the popular sites is understandable (eg. Snopes, NASA). They attract traffic for many reasons beyond climate change. Sites like c2es have a decent structure (at least it’s better than Judith curry’s site), but it’s also got an entire team to make a decent site.

    My conclusion? The findings (irrespective of “bias”) are probably about what I’d expect.

    Although, Wikipedia “we have identity politics moderators” would also be very popular because its content is well structured (but likely biased, as I’ve experienced on multiple topics, first hand. The moderators at Wikipedia are extremely prejudiced and not policed. I tested a few topics and removed “false” or “misleading” comments, backed by evidence. Despite using different browsers and IP addresses, Wikipedia deleted all of my comments on topics deemed controversial, even my corrections of false statements. Wikipedia sucks!)

    No smoking gun, sorry.

  • Dante Alighieri ????

    I hate to get meta phizzical but does “Objectivity even exist”. Don’t all organizations tend towards bias. Saying that a newspaper is un-bias is like saying colors are even rather than odd, or that animals want democracy.

    Google is liberal if you’re positioned on the right. It’s conservative is you’re positioned on the left. I might well say Google is a tool of Capitalism because it never excoriates the wealthy for their profligacy. (neither does CNN, by the way.)

    It’s not Google’s algorithms that are bias, it’s your selection of questions that you use to test their ideology that demonstrates bias

  • Dante Alighieri ????

    Addendum to what I wrote below

    If the theory is true, it means any non-political word would generate more pro-left results than pro-right results.

    For example, on Google, type in the word “because”. The majority of articles won’t be political in nature at all. However, those that are politically bias, should produce significantly more pro-left articles than pro-right articles. But they don’t.

    Skip to the second page to get thru the definitons etc. then start a tally and see what you get. Try it for any neutral word and you’ll get pretty much a 50/50 ratio.

    Maybe i’m wrong/ but i don’t think so. But it’s got to be politically-morality-neutral. Why? Because certain words are by nature are more left-driven than right-driven.

    Global warming is an example. It generates more left-leaning citations than right.
    Homicide on the other hand generates more right-leaning websites etc. (Law & Order is red meat for the right.)

    So the word has to be neutral to render an un-bias Google representation.

    Call me crazy. Try it yourself. —Dante